Tag Archives: uga

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Empower wins SGA election for 2019

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After nearly two weeks of campaigning, executive ticket Empower has won the UGA Student Government Association election on March 6. Empower will be the 32nd executive branch for UGA SGA.

Empower consists of Rachel Byers, president-elect, a third-year Political Science and Communications Studies major from Monroe, Georgia; Melissa Hevener, vice-president-elect, a second-year Public Relations and International Affairs major from Biñan, Philippines; and Nav Singh, treasurer-elect, a third-year Pharmaceutical Sciences major from Stone Mountain Georgia.

6,860 students voted in this year’s SGA election, with Empower securing 54.61% of the votes. ACT, the competing ticket, took 45.39% of votes. In total, less than 20% of the UGA student body voted in the election.

Empower’s platform is focused on “bridging the gap between student and campus resources.” They aim to assist underrepresented students in areas such as women’s issues, mental health, and food services. Their platform also includes initiatives to improve campus transit and parking services.

The 32nd SGA inauguration will be held April 9 in the UGA Chapel, where current executive branch Believe will pass on their roles to the new officers.

For more information on Empower’s platform, visit empoweruga.com.

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Student Spotlight: Erin Cooke

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Deciding who to interview for a student spotlight was a no-brainer for me. My friend Erin Cooke is probably the busiest person I know. I’m not kidding when I say she rarely has a day off! A senior from Ringgold, Georgia, Erin is involved in many student organizations at here at UGA, holding leadership roles in multiple clubs. Just to name a few, she works full-time for the UGA chapter of Turning Point USA, is a member of the College Republicans, and holds a position of leadership in UGA Miracle. Erin’s senior year got off to an impressive start as she coordinated a Turning Point event that hosted Donald Trump Jr. as headline speaker. The event was met with much anticipation. Originally scheduled to be at the Tate Center Theatre, the event had to be moved to the Classic Center to accommodate the large expected crowds. Turning Point saw its largest attendance ever for a campus event with a recorded turnout of around 1,500. Because of Erin’s impressive work coordinating the event, Turning Point offered her a full-time position, which she accepted in December.

Turning Point isn’t the only organization in which Erin is making a difference. Erin attributes a large part of her time to a leadership position with UGA Miracle, an event that raises money for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Erin has a younger sister with a cleft palate lip who was adopted from China at a young age. Erin told me that she knows the difficulties that many families go through with children needing vital operations. Erin’s relationship with her sister is the driving force behind her commitment to the organization. This weekend, UGA Miracle hosted a dance marathon in which attendees were challenged to stand for 24 hours straight to raise money for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The organization raised over $1.1 million over the weekend. Erin raised about $600 herself through her sorority.

So what are Erin’s plans after graduating from UGA? Well, Erin plans on running for political office in the state of Georgia, aspiring to become a U.S. Senator one day. For someone who has accomplished so much at such a young age, Erin is very humble and down to earth. She told me that she doesn’t want to seek fame through politics, but instead wants to be a servant of the community. Erin’s faith in Christ is what she said has motivated her throughout her life’s journey. I believe Erin will enjoy great success after graduation because of her amazing work ethic and dedication to service. I wish Erin Cooke the best of luck in her future career in politics!

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UGA Hosted the 2019 Swim & Dive SEC Championships

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For those of you who were trying to workout at Ramsey this past week, you may have noticed that the parking deck was a lot more filled than usual.  That’s because UGA hosted the 2019 Swimming & Diving SEC Championships this past Tuesday to Saturday.  Fans from all over the SEC schools came over to cheer on their beloved swimmers.  These fans mostly consisted of families.  Nevertheless, the crowd was still electric.

              I had the opportunity to be a part of the action by timing the races and recording scores for diving for most of the sessions.  Some notable performances were done by UGA swimmers and divers.  McKensi Austin made it to the finals in women’s 3 meter diving.  Courtney Harnish received first place for the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:35.52 and third place in 200 freestyle at 1:43.53.  Javier Acevedo came in third in the 200 Individual Medley with a time of 1:43.29.  Camden Murphy made school history by setting a new record in the 100 butterfly at 45.26 coming in third place, and he came in first place in the 200 butterfly at 1:40.62.  Olivia Carter also received first place in 200 butterfly with a time of 1:53.23.  Veronica Burchill came in third in the 100 freestyle at 47.30.  Finally, James Guest came in second place in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:53.11.  Many of UGA’s swimmers improved by achieving career best times at this meet.  The women scored 883.5 points, and the men scored 862.5 points.  This placed both teams at 5th place overall in the meet.  The men’s SEC Champion is the University of Florida.  The women’s SEC Champion is Texas A&M.

Senior James Guest swimming in the 100 yard breaststroke (photo from the Red & Black)

              This meet was intense.  SEC records were broken.  Coaches were jumping up and down cheering on their athletes.  Parents came in with signs and shakers.  Even Caeleb Dressel made an appearance wearing an alligator costume.  Why does it all matter?  Well, these are students at UGA who worked harder than we could ever imagine just to beat the clock.  They take swimming to a whole new level.  They bring pride and glory to the university while maintaining their academics. 

              If you have never been to a swim meet before, I encourage you to do so.  Swimmers and divers take athleticism to another level.  They can achieve things that the average person can only imagine in their greatest fantasy.  Watching the fiery energy of swimming and the elegance of diving can put a new meaning of sports and athleticism in your head.

              If you missed this amazing meet this past week, don’t worry!  UGA will host a last chance meet March 2-3 to tie it up for the season and prepare for the NCAA championships.  Oh, and speaking of that, UGA will host the NCAA swimming and diving championships in 2020, so I would start marking your calendars now to prepare for a historical meet!

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International Coffee Hour at UGA

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Every Friday at 11:30 am, I head over to Memorial Hall Ballroom for International Coffee Hour. This event is a weekly program that is hosted by UGA’s International Student Organizations and campus departments bringing UGA students, faculty, staff, and community members together for FREE international cuisine and Jittery Joe’s coffee. 

Each week, a new international organization hosts an event and attendees are able to get a taste of their culture and background. In addition to the free cuisine and coffee, the organization that hosts the event may dress up in their culture’s garments, bring artifacts, and lead a Kahoot! session or other games to provide an opportunity for those attending to learn interesting facts about their culture. 

Being at such a big school, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to make new friends and find yourself in an organization. International Coffee Hour is a great opportunity to connect with individuals from various backgrounds and make friends. I have a great time at these events and have made friends while learning so much about different cultures. It has now become a weekly ritual for me and my friends to attend this event.

The event is again, FREE, and is from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm on Fridays so you can always go right before your 12:20 pm class or right after your 11:15 am class. All you need to do is swipe your UGACard and you are free to eat delicious international food, drink coffee, play games, and connect with others!

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A Definitive Ranking of Athens, GA Queso

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1. Taqueria del Sol

“Best in town,” “An Athens staple,” and “5/5 stars” are a few of the ways that UGA students have described Taqueria del Sol’s infamous queso. In the words of Josie Guitton, a third-year Pre-Med student, “Taq queso is the perfect amount of spice and incredibly consistent. you know what you want when you go in and you get just that.”

2. Taqueria la Parilla

La Parilla is affectionately referred to as “La Pa” by locals and sorority girls alike. In the words of Katie Ryan, a junior marketing major, La Pa queso is “the greasiness your body needs and deserves after a 21st birthday rager.”

3. Tlaloc el Mexicano Restaurant

“One word, authentic.” -Katie Ryan

4. Cali N Tito’s at La Puerta del Sol

To get the full experience, you have to go to the Eastside and experience Cali N Titos queso at La Puerta del Sol. The chips are the perfect amount of crispy and crunchy and they pair amazingly with Cali N Tito’s queso, which is smooth with a hint of spice. The best part- La Puerta del Sol accepts credit cards.

5. La Fiesta

A hidden gem of Athens– La Fiesta is on the Eastside, across from UGA’s Veterinary School. Their queso gives you that hometown, local Mexican restaurant feel that you can’t find anywhere else. Add jalapeños for an extra kick.

6. Agua Linda Taqueria

A classic. No jalepeños, no chorizo, no frills. According to Laren Durkee, a third-year Pre-Med student, Auga Linda queso is “cheese dip you can stick a straw in and drink.”

7. The Taco Stand- Downtown

Taco Stand queso is a mix between the usual Mexican restaurant melted cheese and your mom’s spinach and artichoke dip. It’s the only queso in Athens, and maybe the world for that matter, that adds spinach to an everyday favorite.

8. Taqueria Tsunami

The best part about Taqueria Tsunami’s queso is that you have the option to dip chips, tortilla triangles, or tots in it, according to junior Josie Guitton. Definitely a great queso to indulge in when you and your roommates can’t decide between Mexican or Asian food for dinner.

9. Sr. Sol

An escape from the Athens, GA bubble. “Sr Sol is where you go when you want to indulge in your melted cheese fix without being judged by the rest of the UGA student population,” according to junior Katie Ryan.

10. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

A flavor explosion. Fuzzy’s queso is loaded with tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, cheddar, and mozzarella. Their chips add an extra kick with a signature blend of spices that is unique to Fuzzy’s locations. Fuzzy’s earned it’s spot at the bottom of the list, according to junior Carolina Pinckney, who added that “Fuzzy’s doesn’t even deserve to be called queso. It’s just melted cheese.”

*Honorable Mention: Willy’s Mexicana Grill

Willy’s gets an honorable mention for being the best fast-food, southwestern grill queso in Athens. As third-year Engeneering student Ellie Ferguson put it, “Willy’s is the best restaurant in America… don’t @ me.”

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Student Spotlight: Kristen Plummer

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Kristen Plummer is a 4th year Fashion Merchandising student from Norcross, GA. She loves being at UGA, and her favorite part about being here is the eclectic nature of Athens because there’s always something to do. Whether it’s finding a fun place to go eat, enjoying the music scene, or going on hikes, Kristen loves the various things that Athens has to offer. In her free time Kristen loves running, hanging out with her friends, shopping, and playing the piano. Kristen is a member of Phi Mu, where she has served on the executive board. After graduation in May, Kristen hopes to obtain her MBA from the London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London. 

Kristen chose to pursue a degree in fashion merchandising, because fashion is something that she loves and feels passionate about. She was drawn to fashion at a very young age when she would dress up her dolls in various outfits that she made herself. She finds it fascinating how much fashion is changing and how people are becoming more conscious consumers. 

During Kristen’s freshman year she became involved with the UGA agency, and she has been a part of it ever since. The UGA agency does a fashion show every fall and does photoshoots in the spring. During her first three years at UGA Kristen did modeling for the agency, but for her senior year Kristen decided to join the styling team. She wanted to have the opportunity to be behind the camera because it applies more to what she wants to do in the future. Her favorite part about modeling and being involved with the UGA agency is seeing everyone collaborate on an artistic piece, because sometimes modeling isn’t viewed as an art even though it should be. Modeling is much harder than people think it is, models have to put their bodies into certain shapes and they have to work with the photographer to create something really cool. She enjoys seeing hair and makeup come together and looking at the final product that is produced when the photographer edits the pictures. Kristen hopes to take what she has learned from the fashion industry to work for a corporate high fashion company in New York City. 

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The Power of LinkedIn

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We all know LinkedIn. If you don’t then I suggest you check it out because it’s the social media for business professionals as I would like to call it.

We use it, we know it, but it’s actually more powerful than we know. Many people post on LinkedIn, wether it be a company posting their accomplishments, someone posting about their personal accomplishments, “life tips” and/or interview tips.

The connections you make on LinkedIn can be someone you know personally, or you just want to connect with someone randomly. What I’ve learned is to not be afraid to connect with randoms that work for a company you’re interested with.

For example, you want to work for Coca-Cola as one of their digital marketers. Search for people with that job criteria on LinkedIn and send them a small message telling them that you want to learn more about what they do and more about the company. Chances are they’ll reply and would love to talk to you.

I’ve made many “random” connections that turned out to be the best professional assets and part of the reason why I have accepted full time offer from a company that I’ve been eyeballing for quite some time now. They gave me tips on what it’s really like to work for this company, what they look for in a candidate, their work-life balance, where you can apply, and what you can do to prepare for a potential interview based on their own experiences.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. Use LinkedIn to your benefit, go out of your comfort zone and talk to new people. What can you really lose? Nothing.

There’s always room for knowledge and connections. I’m not saying be best friends with those people but it is always nice to know someone on the inside. Word travels fast and many companies like to hire internally through their employee’s connections. How cool would it be to have an employee reference to the company you want to work for?

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Student Spotlight: John Kutteh

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At a school with 28,848 students, it can be pretty difficult to stick out. That is no problem for my dear friend John Kutteh. John and I became friends our freshman year here in Athens and became roommates the following year. Since then, it has been a joy to do life with him. John is a well-spoken guy who is one of the easiest people to talk to I have ever met. John strives to make everyone in a room feel heard and comfortable. He is also very funny and that is not a liberal use of the word very. You will never meet a guy more ready to get to know you and serve you more readily than John. In addition to all of this, he is very actively involved on campus at UGA and in the community of Athens. As such, I decided to interview my roommate and find out a little of his story from his own perspective. So, without further ado, I present to you the John Kutteh Interview.

Q: What is your name, year in school, and where are you from?

A: “My name is John Kutteh. I am a third year studying public relations from Memphis, TN.”

Q: What made you want to come to UGA?

A: “Actually, I didn’t really have a strong desire to come to UGA. It was literally the only school that worked financially and location-wise. I like to say that coming to Georgia was the best decision that was ever made for me.”

Q: Why do you say that?

A: “The people I met here and the organizations I’ve been a part of have all had really big impacts on my life.”

Q: What organizations have you been involved with in your time here at UGA?

A: “I have been heavily involved in Phi Slam at UGA. Phi Slam is a ministry that seeks to give students an alternative to the downtown scene in Athens. Our hope is that, in doing that, students will be able to engage in authentic, lasting community throughout their years in college. I was also an orientation leader this past summer.”

Q: How did you get involved with Phi Slam?

“I got involved with Phi Slam at the beginning of my first year. I met a few of the guys that were already in Phi Slam and decided that it was something in which I also wanted to participate. I applied and went through the interview process and found out in November that I was going to be joining the organization.”

Q: What skills do you bring to Phi Slam that help the overall organization?

“I think I bring a sense of organization to the organization. [Break for laughter] That was a terribly worded sentence. I think that being organized helps us accomplish our tasks in a timely manner and stay on top of projects.”

John and I actually got into Phi Slam together and I can speak first hand to this. Before we became a part of the ministry, it was very common for tools and decorations to go missing and for Phi Slam to be very unprepared for events. John, however, has helped lead in organization and we are running more efficiently than ever.

Q: What made you want to be an orientation leader?

A: “I remembered how scared I was when I came to orientation as an incoming freshman. I applied for the orientation leader position hoping to be able to ease the fears of a student like me, coming into college without knowing anyone or knowing anything about the school at all.”

Q: What was one time you showed leadership during your time as an orientation leader?

“As a group of orientation leaders, we had to show leadership every day. Every week, we had around 60 new students that were looking to us to help them transition either to college as a freshman or to UGA as a transfer student. These students needed strong leadership. They needed someone to show them how UGA works and how they can make their time at UGA successful.”

John has always been good at showing empathy and putting himself in others’ shoes. With his past experience at orientation, I have no doubt that John was able to be as excited as the most eager freshman as well as be there for anyone that was nervous. John is very good at seeing people as people and meeting them where they are at.

In his time at UGA, John has held some competitive positions. There are many good reasons for this, but I think the best one just comes from how he treats people he meets. It’s easy to be nice once. It’s truly impressive when someone can repeat that same care and attention over and over and that’s something easily recognizable in John. Whether you are an employer or just looking for a friend, I guarantee you would love to meet John Kutteh.

Check out his LinkedIn!

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Around UGA: Men’s lacrosse

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The University of Georgia Men’s club lacrosse team kicks off their season at home against NC State on Friday, February 8that 7:30pm at the club sports complex. The team is coming off of an 8-6 record in 2018, ending their season on a first round loss in the SELC tournament to Virginia Tech. The bulldogs are looking to avenge themselves this season, as they have their eyes on an SELC championship and an opportunity to compete for an MCLA championship in Utah. The team is expected by most to be successful this year, as they come into the preseason MCLA polls at #15 nationally. The bulldogs have a very rigorous schedule this year, playing 5 teams that are currently ranked in the MCLA preseason top 25 rankings. 

The roster looks drastically different than it did in 2018, as the bulldogs had a big senior class. With the loss of key players to graduation last year, the bulldogs will rely on leadership from team captains Tristan Otto, Trent Bruno, Austin Eiseman, Diego Medina, and Jack Barton. On the offensive side of the ball things will run through junior attackmen Jack Ryan, who will rely division I transfers Shawn Finnerty and Cade Klawinski to help him put up big numbers. With senior Cash Carlson out for the season due to a torn ACL, Austin Eiseman and Trent Bruno will need to step up big to get stops on defense for the bulldogs and lead the new-look defense. 

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Student Spotlight: Gracie Cherrey

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Gracie Cherrey is a senior marketing major from Woodbury, Minnesota. She committed to attend to the University of Georgia as a gymnast when she was in the 10thgrade, over her other top choices of the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma. She says that Georgia had the best overall balance from all of the schools she looked at, and she states that it was one of the best decisions she’s ever made. Her biggest factors in her decision included the great location of campus, there was a lot to do around Athens, great academics, a beautiful campus, and UGA has great athletic and academic facilities. After graduation Gracie plans to stay in Atlanta as a medical sales device representative, or study in UGA’s Master of Marketing Research program. When Gracie isn’t studying or doing anything gymnastics related, she loves to go shopping, hangout with her friends, and participate in various water sports. 

Gracie got involved in the sport of gymnastics at the age of 5 years old, which is considered a late start for an elite gymnast like herself. She started off in a small mommy and me gymnastics program, but quickly began competing at a higher level. When she was in the second grade she began leaving school early in order to train for gymnastics where she would go compete with gymnasts who were 10 years older than her. Gracie says that she realized she had the potential to be a very good gymnast when she was in the fourth grade because she was training with the oldest people in her gym at the time, and she was completing skills that she saw gymnasts doing on television. At this time in her life she was devoting 30-40 hours per week perfecting her craft. She was very hard on herself from a very young age because she considers herself to be a perfectionist and she had very big expectations for herself. She began competing at level 10 gymnastics in the 6thgrade. Once she reached elite gymnastics, the level of gymnastics that puts gymnasts on team USA, she said gymnastics became more of a chore than a fun hobby for her. She didn’t compete in high school gymnastics because it isn’t competitive, so she competed exclusively at the club level. She feels very fortunate to be one of the few gymnasts who had the opportunity to attend public school growing up, because the weekly workload that gymnasts have forces a lot of them to be home schooled. One of the hardest things for her growing up was to explain to her friends what she was doing in gymnastics, because it isn’t a sport that most people know a lot about. She said her friends either thought she was performing basic cartwheels or competing to be in the next Olympics, but she states that she was somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. She states that there was a lot more pressure on her than any normal high school student, especially because she began her college recruiting process when she was only in the 8thgrade. Once she made her verbal commitment to Georgia two years later, she states that a lot of the pressure was taken off of her. 

Gracie stepped onto campus as a Georgia student in June shortly after high school graduation, while most students were at home enjoying their last summer before college began. The transition from high school to college is an adjustment for everyone when they first step onto campus, but she was thankful that she was able to begin school a few months before everyone else because it gave her more time to adapt. She was under a much larger microscope than most students at UGA, because she was a student-athlete and she represented UGA in everything that she did. Being under this microscope and balancing her academics with athletics was well worth it to her when she had to opportunity to represent her school in front of 10,000 fans in Stegman Colosseum. 

During Gracie’s freshman year on campus, she started getting hit by the injury bug. An ongoing ankle injury limited her to competing in bars, even though her favorite events were floor and vault. Competing in bars put the least amount of pressure on her ankle, and it was the only way she could physically compete and not have to redshirt. After competing freshman year, she had an extensive ankle surgery that she hoped would allow her to compete again at a high level. She knew something didn’t feel right with her ankle when she stepped back on campus sophomore year, but she continued to compete anyway. After choosing to compete in floor during her sophomore season, her ankle reconstruction ruptured right before the season began. She was devastated to hear from multiple doctors that after having this second ankle surgery, she would likely never be able to compete again. During the fall of her junior year when she recovered from her ankle injury, she was told that she could compete but only in bars. She felt very fortunate to have to opportunity to compete again despite being told that she would never physically be able to again. Shortly after coming back she began have discomfort in her shoulder, which she later found out was because she had torn her rotator cuff, labrum, and bicep tendon. Upon hearing the results from her MRI on her shoulder, she began crying with her coach and she told her coach that she could no longer physically compete. Gracie chose to medically disqualify which preserved her scholarship for herself, and allowed the team to pursue another scholarship gymnast at the same time. 

Despite no longer being on the team anymore, Gracie adopted new roles in order to help the team in any way she could. She took over the team’s social media accounts as a distraction for her. She is no longer an active roster member, but she still travels with the team. She feels truly blessed to be in the position that she is in with the team and to be pain free. Gracie considers herself to be a resource for the girls, which is especially important this year because of the youth of the team. This season there are 9 freshman gymnasts on the team, on a team of 14 athletes. Whether she gives them life advice or gymnastics advice, the younger girls know that they can talk to her when they need help with anything. 

Gracie has extremely high expectations for the team this year, despite the inexperience at the college level of most of the gymnasts. She expects nothing less out of the team than a trip to nationals, an appearance in the top 4, and a chance at competing for a national championship and obtaining national championship number 11 for UGA’s gymnastics program. Individually, she expects the most out of her best friend and senior leader on the team, Sydney Snead. Snead is someone who has already had a lot of success in her college career, with one of her biggest accomplishments being a perfect 10 that she has received. She sees a lot of potential in the younger girls on the team as well, including Emily Schild and Marissa Oakley. Despite not being able to name her expectations for each individual athlete on the team, she has extremely high expectations for every single athlete on the team because they are all very talented and gymnastics is a team sport which requires hard work and dedication from every single athlete on the roster. 

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SPARKsouthSeptember 28, 2018
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